'Abd al-Mu'min

Pages: 192
Subject: Religion, History, Biography
Series: Makers of the Muslim World
Imprint: Oneworld Academic

'Abd al-Mu'min

Mahdism and Caliphate in the Islamic West

Maribel Fierro

9781851684281 (4 Nov 2021)
RRP £25.00 / US$30.00

The Book

‘Abd al-Mu'min (c.1094-1163) did not establish the first caliphate in the Islamic West, but his encompassed more territory than any that had preceded it. As leader of the Almohads, a politico-religious movement grounded in an uncompromising belief in the unity of God, he unified for the first time the whole of North Africa west of Egypt, and conquered much of southern Spain.

Studying every facet of ‘Abd al-Mu'min's rule, from his violent repression of opposition to the flourishing of scholarship during his reign, Maribel Fierro reveals an intelligent leader and a skilled military commander who sought to build a lasting caliphate across disparate and diverse societies.

Additional Information

Subject Religion, History, Biography
Series Makers of the Muslim World
Pages 192
Imprint Oneworld Academic


About the Author

Maribel Fierro is Research Professor at the Consejo Superior de Investigaciones Científicas in Madrid. Her work focuses on the intellectual history of the Islamic West, particularly with respect to law, religion, historiography and political thought. She is the author of ‘Abd al-Rahman III: The First Cordoban Caliph, which is also published by Oneworld.


‘Maribel Fierro, an internationally acclaimed authority on the Almohads, presents an accessible account of the true founder of the Almohad empire, ‘Abd al-Mu'min… Despite their importance, ‘Abd al-Mu'min and the Almohads rarely receive the coverage they deserve in surveys of the Islamic world and Fierro uses her deep erudition to address the balance in a way that will intrigue the novice and encourage the expert to think again.'

- Amira K. Bennison, Professor in the History and Culture of the Maghrib, University of Cambridge

‘‘Abd al-Mu'min is a little known but very important figure in the history of the Almohad caliphate and the twelfth-century Maghrib in general. Maribel Fierro has brilliantly brought him to life. Grounded in her in-depth scholarship and with a clear narrative strand, this biography should be the first port of call for anyone interested in this controversial figure.'

- Hugh Kennedy, Professor of Arabic, SOAS, University of London

Table of Contents



1  ‘Abd al-Mu'min, the Zanata Berber Who Built an Empire and Became Prince of the Believers


2  Looking for Knowledge: The Encounter with Ibn Tumart

Travelling East in Hammadid territory: Mallala and Ibn Tumart

Travelling West Through Almoravid territory to Igiliz: Mahdism

Travelling North: Tinmal and the Purges

Ibn Tumart's Death and ‘Abd al-Mu'min's Succession

History, Legend and Anthropology


3  From the Mountains to Empire: Submission to the Almohad Cause (al-tawhid) Through Jihad

Discrediting and Fighting the Almoravids

The Long Road to Marrakesh, the Rebellion of al-Massi and the Great Purge

The Expansion Eastwards, the Rebellion of Ibn Tumart's Brothers and the Fight Against Arabs and Normans

The Conquest of al-Andalus and ‘Abd al-Mu'min's Death

Jihad, the Army and the Collection of Taxes


4  Balancing Power to Achieve Dynastic Rule: The Almohad Hierarchies

Ibn Tumart's Family and Inner Circle: The Ahl al-Dar and the Council of Ten

The Almohad Tribes, the Council of Fifty and the Shaykhs

Purging the Almohads (Tamyiz and I‘tiraf) and Facing Rebellion

‘Abd al-Mu'min's Family and Genealogies

The Sayyids, the Talaba, the Huffaz and the Husaba'


5  Establishing God's order (al-Amr al-‘Aziz): How to be a Maghribi caliph

Mahdism, Caliphate and al-Amr al-‘Aziz

The Writings of Ibn Tumart and ‘Abd al-Mu'min

Berber and Arabic, Igiliz/Tinmal and Mecca/Medina

The Square: Coins, Drums, Books

The Caliph, Provider of Happiness and Baraka: Banquets and Itinerancy


6  Giving Shape to the Caliphate: Buildings, Religious Practices, Law and Philosophy

Building the Caliphate: Mosques, High Minarets, Towns and Gardens

Purity, Islamic Rituals and the ‘Uthmanic Mushaf

Forced Conversion: The Abolition of the Dhimma

Malikism, Law and the Judges

Re-imagining Ibn Tumart and ‘Abd al-Mu'min: Ibn Tufayl and Ibn Tahir


7  The Caliph's Men and the Rest: Administration and Knowledge

Secretaries, Viziers nd Preachers

Poets, Historians and Grammarians

Doctors, Philosophers and Astronomers

The Ghuraba', the Mystics and the Saints

Shifting Trajectories and the Non-Almohads


8  ‘Abd al-Mu'min's Significance and Legacy


Sources and Select Bibliography


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